Commentary and Data on Madison’s High School Graduation Data

Simpson Street Free Press: Today, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released high school graduation data for the 2017-2018 academic year. Madison Metropolitan School District’s 4-year grad rates declined for both black and white students — to 65.6% and 87.8%, respectively. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, district officials “are pleased with the trajectory of … Continue reading Commentary and Data on Madison’s High School Graduation Data

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques: Dear Editor: We read “The new math: how data is changing the way teachers teach” with great interest. We learned that for freshmen at East High School, coming to school 90 percent of the time, having a 3.0 grade point average, and having no more than two failing grades is … Continue reading “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

A rebellion at Madison West High School over new curriculum

Lynn Welch

When Paul Radspinner’s 15-year-old son Mitchell wanted to participate in a student sit-in last October outside West High School, he called his dad to ask permission.
“He said he was going to protest, and wanted to make sure I had no problem with it. I thought, ‘It’s not the ’60s anymore,'” recalls Radspinner. The students, he learned, were upset about planned curriculum changes, which they fear will eliminate elective class choices, a big part of the West culture.
“It was a real issue at the school,” notes Radspinner. “The kids found out about it, but the parents didn’t.”
This lack of communication is a main reason Radspinner and 60 other parents recently formed a group called West Cares. Calling itself the “silent majority,” the group this month opposed the new English and social studies honors classes the district is adding next fall at West, as well as Memorial. (East and La Follette High Schools already offer these classes for freshmen and sophomores.)
The parents fear separating smarter kids from others at the ninth-grade level will deepen the achievement gap by pushing some college-bound students into advanced-level coursework sooner. They also believe it will eviscerate West’s culture, where all freshmen and sophomores learn main subjects in core classes together regardless of achievement level.
“It’s a big cultural paradigm shift,” says parent Jan O’Neil. “That’s what we’re struggling with in the West community.”

Lots of related links:

Madison School Board: Superintendent’s High School Redesign Presentation & Public Comments [Audio / Video]

Four citizens spoke at Monday evening’s school board meeting regarding the proposed “high school redesign”. Watch or download this video clip. Superintendent Art Rainwater’s powerpoint presentation and followup board discussion. Watch or download the video. Links: Susan Troller: MMSD to study high schools before “redesigning” them Joan Knoebel comments. East High School Principal Allen Harris’s … Continue reading Madison School Board: Superintendent’s High School Redesign Presentation & Public Comments [Audio / Video]

High School Rigor: Iowa AP Index and a Michigan School Board Member

The University of Iowa: Every May a large number of high school students across America take AP exams. In May 2005 over 1.2 million high school students took over 2.1 million AP exams. AP allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Over 3000 colleges accept AP exam scores for either college … Continue reading High School Rigor: Iowa AP Index and a Michigan School Board Member

A battle over gifted education is brewing in America

The Economist: The debate over whether education of gifted children segregates them on the basis of pre-existing privilege rather than cognitive ability is neither new nor uniquely American. The number of selective, state-run grammar schools in Britain reached its zenith in 1965, before the Labour government of Harold Wilson embarked on a largely successful effort … Continue reading A battle over gifted education is brewing in America

Four Corrections to a Context And Fact-Free Article Called “The Democrats’ School Choice Problem.”

Laura Waters: On New Year’s Eve The Nation published an analysis by Jennifer Berkshire called “The Democrats’ School Choice Problem.” Her piece is instructive because it illustrates a strategy commonly employed by those who regard themselves as warriors against craven privatizing shysters intent on expanding charter schools and/or voucher programs. This is how it works: … Continue reading Four Corrections to a Context And Fact-Free Article Called “The Democrats’ School Choice Problem.”

Critical Thinking is Nothing Without Knowledge

DJ Buck: Among high school students, I’ve seen puzzled looks in response to the mention of Adolf Hitler, segregation, Thomas Jefferson, the Cold War, Aristotle and the Bill of Rights—among other things. This shocking lack of knowledge has a noxious effect on student thought. Take a question I gave during a video assignment: to which … Continue reading Critical Thinking is Nothing Without Knowledge

Commentary on 2020 Madison School Board Election Candidates

Scott Girard: For the past seven months, Strong has been a program associate with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Strong said in an interview Thursday he considers school safety and racial disparities in discipline and achievement to be the top issues facing MMSD. “We have to make sure that our schools are safe … Continue reading Commentary on 2020 Madison School Board Election Candidates

Madison School Board member Kate Toews not seeking reelection

Logan Wroge: Madison School Board member Kate Toews is not seeking reelection this spring after serving one term. Toews, who was chosen as board vice president in April, filed paperwork Friday with the city Clerk’s Office indicating she doesn’t plan to run for reelection April 7. One person, Benjamin Williams, had filed initial paperwork to … Continue reading Madison School Board member Kate Toews not seeking reelection

Commentary on Growing Madison (and Dane County) K-12 Property Tax Bills

Dean Mosiman: Driven by higher property values, slower growth in the lottery credit and rising school levies, many Dane County homeowners will see higher tax bills this year. In the city of Madison, the total tax bill for the average assessed home in the Madison School District is rising about $374, or 5.8%, to $6,789. … Continue reading Commentary on Growing Madison (and Dane County) K-12 Property Tax Bills

10 heroes of Wisconsin education from 2019

Alan Borsuk: The Wisconsin Reading Coalition: A controversial choice, some might say. Dismal reading scores overall for Wisconsin students raise a lot of alarms. Yet little is done to change how schools statewide teach reading. The coalition is a small group of dedicated, even adamant, supporters of increased use of practices such as structured phonics. They’re … Continue reading 10 heroes of Wisconsin education from 2019

Commentary on taxpayer supported Madison K-12 Curriculum

Scott Girard: West High School senior Miles Mullens, who is enrolled in the school’s Wisconsin First Nations class this semester, said the class has felt like the first time his history classes have been “honest about” what colonizers did to Native Americans. “I thought I was a quote-unquote woke person, someone who had already learned … Continue reading Commentary on taxpayer supported Madison K-12 Curriculum

Parents and the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Logan Wroge: Berg said it’s critical parents are made aware if their child is questioning their gender identity because they could have gender dysphoria — deep discomfort and distress about a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity — which may require professional help. WILL is also seeking the removal of a portion of the … Continue reading Parents and the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

This meeting was held at Lakeview public library. Asking attendees to leave would have been a violation of the Madison Public Library’s rules of use, which require that “meetings be free and open to the general public at all times.” pic.twitter.com/BRgxOnbSmk — Chan Stroman (@eduphilia) December 13, 2019 It was nonetheless made quite apparent that … Continue reading Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Status Quo Vs “The Democratization of Education“

Jonathan Siddharth: And there’s another reason, also technology-driven, why boundaryless teams are possible now — the democratization of education for software engineers. Almost every university that matters now allows exclusively online education. You can attend Stanford from Nigeria or Oxford from El Salvador. The smartest companies have expanded their recruiting pool to the planet; institutions … Continue reading Status Quo Vs “The Democratization of Education“

Much ado about nothing: City of Madison education comMittee; ReAding?

Scott Girard: Bidar said it would be a challenge to become a decision-making body, given that any initiatives would require approval by three different legislative bodies, but there’s still value in the committee. “Once we have clarity and agreement around what we want to be, it’s sharing the information with the rest of our colleagues,” … Continue reading Much ado about nothing: City of Madison education comMittee; ReAding?

K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; … Continue reading K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

I’ve added the following audio recordings to the 2019 Madison School Board Candidate page. WORT FM Candidate discussion 2.5.2019 Cris Carusi and Kaleem Caire [mp3 audio] Mr. Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks in five years, they can shut us down”. There is no public school in Madison that has closed because only 7 … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading

Avi Wolfman-Arent: The small parent rebellion forming in one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest school districts began at a Starbucks in suburban Chester County. Over coffee, three moms — Kate Mayer, Jamie Lynch, and Wendy Brooks — swapped stories about how their kids struggled to read as they moved through the Tredyffrin/Easttown school district, located about 30 … Continue reading Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading

Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early … Continue reading Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

Minnesota’s persistent literacy gap has lawmakers looking for ways to push evidence-based reading instruction

Erin Hinrichs: “Minnesota has a state of emergency regarding literacy. I’m very disappointed with where we’re at right now with the persistent reading success gap between white students and students of color,” he said Wednesday. “We are not making adequate progress, and the future of tens of thousands of our students is seriously at risk … Continue reading Minnesota’s persistent literacy gap has lawmakers looking for ways to push evidence-based reading instruction

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

Chris Rickert: According to emails released to the State Journal under the state’s open records law, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham on Sept. 10 asked her chief of staff, Ricardo Jara, and other front-office officials whether Arbor was “worth trying to stop? Or change somehow? If so, how?” Cheatham expressed the district’s opposition to the school in … Continue reading UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

“One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

Christopher Osher: But districts are free to use their READ Act per-pupil funds on whatever curriculum they want, even on interventions researchers have found ineffective. “Typically, as with any education policy, we’re only given so much authority on what we can tell districts to do and what we monitor for,” Colsman said in an interview … Continue reading “One issue state officials say they have detected as they monitor the effectiveness of the READ Act is that not all teachers are up to date on how best to teach reading.”

2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

Negassi Tesfamichael: Nearly all current candidates for the Madison School Board have started to make their case to voters and potential endorsers as the primary election heats up. That included answering questions from Madison Teachers Inc., the city’s teachers’ union. Nine candidates are running for three seats on the seven-person School Board. MTI executive director … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques: Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare. Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and … Continue reading deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques [PDF]: Dear Simpson Street Free Press: Thank you for leading the way in looking more closely at recent reports of an increase in MMSD minority student graduation rates and related issues: http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/rising-grad-rates http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/act-college-readiness-gap Inspired by your excellent work, we decided to dig deeper. We call the result of our efforts … Continue reading Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

Anna Welch: The Madison District has seen graduation rates improve. But, it remains unclear if those students are prepared for college and career. Students who are not adequately prepared before they graduate often pay the price in college. In 2016, Act 28 took effect requiring the UW Board of Regents to submit an annual report … Continue reading Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

Governance Transparency: Our view: Howard County’s acting superintendent has an excellent plan for handling public information requests — put it all in public view

Baltimore Sun:: The Howard County Public School System might not deserve a failing grade for how well it has kept the public informed over the years, but it sure hasn’t merited any A’s either. That was more or less the conclusion of the state’s public access ombudsman last year, and it wasn’t hard to see … Continue reading Governance Transparency: Our view: Howard County’s acting superintendent has an excellent plan for handling public information requests — put it all in public view

A School Distanced From Technology Faces Its Intrusion

Past the chicken coop and up a hill, in a spot on campus where the wooden buildings of the Mountain School can seem farther away than the mountains of western New Hampshire, there sometimes can be found a single bar, sometimes two, of cellphone reception.
The spot, between the potato patch and a llama named Nigel, is something of an open secret at the school in this remote corner of Vermont where simplicity is valued over technology. “We’re at the periphery of civilization here,” said Doug Austin, a teacher.
But that is about to change.
The school offers high school juniors, many from elite private institutions in the Northeast, a semester to immerse themselves in nature. The students make solo camping trips to a nearby mountain for a day or two of reflection, and practice orienteering skills without a GPS device. Between English and environmental science classes, they care for farm animals, chop wood and read the works of Robert Frost. And in the process, many say, they stop scouring the campus for its sparse bars of reception and lose the habit of checking their Facebook pages at every opportunity.

The Madison School District’s 2009 Strategic Planning Team

Members include:
Abplanalp, Sue, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools
Alexander, Jennifer, President, Chamber of Commerce
Atkinson, Deedra, Senior Vice-President, Community Impact, United Way of Dane County
Banuelos, Maria,Associate Vice President for Learner Success, Diversity, and Community Relations, Madison Area Technical College
Bidar-Sielaff, Shiva, Manager of Cross-Cultural Care, UW Hospital
Brooke, Jessica, Student
Burke, Darcy, Elvehjem PTO President
Burkholder, John, Principal, Leopold Elementary
Calvert, Matt, UW Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Campbell, Caleb, Student
Carranza, Sal, Academic and Student Services, University of Wisconsin
Chandler, Rick, Chandler Consulting
Chin, Cynthia, Teacher, East
Ciesliewicz, Dave, Mayor, City of Madison
Clear, Mark, Alderperson
Cooper, Wendy, First Unitarian Society
Crim, Dawn, Special Assistant, Academic Staff, Chancellor’s Office, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dahmen, Bruce, Principal, Memorial High School
Davis, Andreal, Cultural Relevance Instructional Resource Teacher, Teaching & Learning
Deloya, Jeannette, Social Work Program Support Teacher
Frost, Laurie, Parent
Gamoran, Adam Interim Dean; University of Wisconsin School of Education
Gevelber, Susan, Teacher, LaFollette
Goldberg, Steve, Cuna Mutual
Harper, John, Coordinator for Technical Assistance/Professional Development, Educational Services
Her, Peng,
Hobart, Susie, Teacher, Lake View Elementary
Howard, James, Parent
Hughes, Ed, Member, Board of Education
Jokela, Jill, Parent
Jones, Richard, Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Juchems, Brian, Program Director, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools
Katz, Ann, Arts Wisconsin
Katz, Barb, Madison Partners
Kester, Virginia, Teacher, West High School
Koencke, Julie, Information Coordinator MMSD
Laguna, Graciela, Parent
Miller, Annette, Community Representative, Madison Gas & Electric
Morrison, Steve, Madison Jewish Community Council
Nadler, Bob, Executive Director, Human Resources
Nash, Pam, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools
Natera, Emilio, Student
Nerad, Dan, Superintendent of Schools
Passman, Marj, Member, Board of Education
Schultz, Sally, Principal, Shabazz City High School
Seno, Karen,Principal, Cherokee Middle School
Sentmanat, Jose, Executive Assistant to the County Executive
Severson, Don, Active Citizens for Education (ACE)
Steinhoff, Becky, Executive Director, Goodman Community Center
Strong, Wayne, Madison Police Department
Swedeen, Beth, Outreach Specialist, Waisman Center
Tennant, Brian, Parent
Terra Nova, Paul, Lussier Community Education Center
Theo, Mike, Parent
Tompkins, Justin, Student
Trevino, Andres, Parent
Trone, Carole, President, WCATY
Vang, Doua, Clinical Team Manager, Southeast Asian Program / Kajsiab House, Mental Health Center of Dane County
Vieth, Karen, Teacher, Sennett
Vukelich-Austin, Martha, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison Public Schools
Wachtel, Lisa, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Zellmer, Jim, Parent
Much more here.
The Strategic Planning Process Schedule [PDF]

Accelerated Biology Update: “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”?

When last I wrote about the status of Accelerated Biology at West HS, I was waiting to hear back from Assistant Superintendent Pam Nash. I had written to Pam on June 8 about how the promised second section of the course never had a chance, given the statistical procedure they used to admit students for … Continue reading Accelerated Biology Update: “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”?

Longtime advocates for academic rigor and educational excellence back Mathiak and Cole

Recent post from the Madison United for Academic Excellence (MUAE) list serve: Dear MUAE Friends, When we volunteered to oversee a District-wide “TAG” parents email list back in 2002, it was in part to help out the District “TAG” staff and in part to make the list available for explicit “TAG” advocacy efforts. We never … Continue reading Longtime advocates for academic rigor and educational excellence back Mathiak and Cole

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Two of the most popular — and most insidious — myths about academically gifted kids is that “they’re all rich, white kids” and that, no matter what they experience in school, “they’ll do just fine.” Even in our own district, however, the hard data do not support those assertions.
When the District analyzed dropout data for the five-year period between 1995 and 1999, they identified four student profiles. Of interest for the present purpose is the group identified as high achieving. Here are the data from the MMSD Research and Evaluation Report from May, 2000:
Group 1: High Achiever, Short Tenure, Behaved
This group comprises 27% of all dropouts during this five-year period.
Characteristics of this group:

  • Grade 5 math scores – 84.2 percentile
  • Male – 55%
  • Low income – 53%
  • Minority – 42%
  • African American – 31%
  • Hispanic – 6%
  • Asian – 5%

West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Here is a synopsis of the English 10 situation at West HS. Currently — having failed to receive any reply from BOE Performance and Achievement Committee Chair Shwaw Vang to our request that he investigate this matter and provide an opportunity for public discussion — we are trying to get BOE President Carol Carstensen to … Continue reading West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!